Healthy Steps Toward the Future

Judy Parker never imagined she would complete a 5K. However, on June 11, she did just that. Together, Judy and her niece Michelle conquered the 2020 Virtual Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K in Judy’s hometown of Pittsboro, IN.  

Judy was married to her late husband, Marvin, for 41 wonderful years. However, Marvin battled Parkinson’s disease for 25 of those years. Judy had spent many of these years taking great care of Marvin, graciously putting his needs before her own. Unfortunately, this took a toll on Judy’s health. Two years ago, Judy was diagnosed with stage 4 cirrhosis of the liver and primary liver cancer. Her diagnosis was a major eye opener for Judy. This prompted her to make some lifestyle changes, which led her to her first 5K.  

Leading up to the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K, Judy began walking at least one mile a day and gradually added more. Though a challenge at first, the distance grew easier with time. She was thrilled that her niece, Michelle, had agreed to show her support by also participating in the virtual 5K. Though they were hoping to conquer the in-person course in 2020, they embraced the new challenge while still looking forward to next year’s race. Walking their virtual 5K in Judy’s hometown was incredibly special, as the two had endless support from local friends and family. Their encouragement made Judy work even harder and their support means more to her than they will ever know. 

Michelle is so proud to have been a part of her aunt’s journey. For her, the virtual 5K was more about Judy’s success than her own. Judy was their motivation to push toward the finish line. Michelle is grateful to support Judy in all she does.  

“My aunt Judy is a larger than life character,” Michelle says.” Anyone that knows her, loves her. She deeply and unconditionally loved my uncle through his illness for many years. She always makes you laugh even when her heart is breaking. She misses my uncle terribly, but I know he is looking down on her today and saying ‘Judy I am so proud of you.’ You don’t see this kind of love often, but when you do, it makes an impact. She is a one of a kind lady. She has made my life so much sweeter and I am so blessed to be a part of this journey with her.” Healthy Steps Toward the Future

Meet Our BRAND-NEW Virtual Challenge! 🌟 

Have you heard the exciting news? We launched the Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge and the Indianapolis Freedom 100 Mile Challenge, the latest 500 Festival initiative to encourage active lifestyles outside of the Month of May! The Indy 500 Mile Challenge is a virtual program where participants will complete 500 miles of physical activity between June 22 and December 31, 2020. 

If you’re not quite ready to take on 500 miles, you also have the option to complete 100 miles of physical activity during the same timeframe in the Indianapolis Freedom 100 Mile Challenge.  

How To Complete Your Challenge:
  1. Register for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge or the Freedom 100 Mile Challenge
  2. Receive your confirmation email with invites to our leader board, Strava group, private Facebook group, online resources, referral program
  3. Start logging miles on June 22
  4. View our custom leader board. You’ll be able to rank yourself against your friends and other runners from around the United States.
  5. Challenge your friends and family to take on the Indy 500 Mile Challenge by creating a Challenge Team!
  6. Receive your participant swag (shirt, medal, pin and other items)
  7. Finish the challenge stronger than you ever thought you could.
Ready to Take on the Challenge? 👟 

The Indy 500 Mile virtual challenge lets you log your mileage anytime, anywhere! Participants can log miles by running, walking, wheelchair, biking, swimming, and even through fitness classes! This virtual fitness experience allows participants to challenge themselves in a fun, new way. Whether spending these months cross-training for your next OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon or need to jump-start your fitness routine, this challenge is the perfect enhancement for all ages and lifestyles.

Join us for this exciting new high-mileage adventure– the Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge! 🏁 Participants can register for the Indy 500 Challenge and Freedom 100 Challenge starting today and participation will be limited to the first 8,000 registered participants.  

We Are Here to Cheer YOU On!

Whether you are completing the miles with friends and family for fun or setting fitness goals for 2020, we are here to cheer you on and support you every step along the way!  Bookmark this page to keep up with fitness journey running tips and be a part of this brand-new virtual fitness challenge with race fans from all over the world.

We Know You Have What It Takes

We hope you will join us for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge and the Indianapolis Freedom 100 Mile Challenge, the second greatest spectacle in racing! 


“Our” Indy Mini

Family and friends from all over the world have been crushing their 2020 Virtual OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathons! For this group of five, the virtual Indy Mini was a chance to participate with thousands of runners across the globe, but to conquer their Indy Mini. 

On a sunny Saturday morning in Marion, Indiana, Caleb Hawkins, Micah Hawkins, Dr. Rusty Hawkins, Nathaniel Beck, and Jeff Tabone set out for their virtual Indy Mini. These runners are no strangers to athletic challenges. Caleb, Micah, and Nathaniel are avid runners that compete in cross country and track for Marion County Schools. With the cancellation of their regular track season, the three boys did not shy away from their Indy Mini training. They maintained 5-6 runs per week. Running has been their source of mental and physical health during the pandemic. It broke up the days, gave them somewhere to go, and something to look forward to. Caleb and Micah’s father, Dr. Rusty Hawkins, is a History & Humanities professor at Indiana Wesleyan University. As a way to keep the boys entertained while training, he gave history lectures during their long runs. This came about as the university moved online mid-March and his sons became the audience for his recorded lectures. Some of the boys’ favorite lessons included the Civil Rights Movement, Watergate, and the O.J. Simpson trial. Luckily, giving history lectures was just as entertaining for Dr. Hawkins as it was for the boys. The 2020 virtual Indy Mini was Dr. Hawkins eighth consecutive Indy Mini, Caleb’s fifth, and Micah’s second. Dr. Jeffrey Tabone is also a faculty member at Indiana Wesleyan University. Though his first Indy Mini, Dr. Tabone enjoys competing in triathlons and Ironman races.  

The morning of their Indy Mini, over 50 friends, family, church members, and coaches came out to support the runners while following social distancing guidelines. To enhance their race experience, they volunteered to keep time, work aid stations at every mile, ring bells, blast music, and more! To ensure COVID-19 safety measures were in place, the volunteers wore masks and cheered from afar after setting up the hydration stations. The runners said they always love the support from thousands of spectators during the Indy Mini, but this was particularly special as the fans were cheering just for them. Caleb, Micah, and Dr. Hawkins all broke their personal records as well. Though their Indy Mini may have looked different, these runners, family, and friends were able to overcome challenges to show what community and resilience truly mean. 

How to Log Your #IndyVirtualChallenge Miles

The Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge and Indianapolis Freedom 100 Challenge has officially begun! Participants can log their miles into RunSignUp from June 22 until December 31. Need some help getting started? Read below how you can log your miles!

There are two ways to log your miles if you are signed into your RunSignup account:

Through your confirmation email

    • Click “manage your registration”
    • Click “view registration”
    • Click “submit virtual results”

Through your RSU account

      • Sign into your RSU account at
      • Click the profile bottom in the top right corner of the page
      • Click “profile”
      • There, you will see a list of upcoming races that is unique to each participant
      • Click “submit virtual results” under the Indy 500 Mile Challenge or Freedom 100 Mile Challenge

If you are not signed into your account

        • Go to the race website:
        • Click “results”
        • Click “Submit virtual results”
        • Look up a participant by first name/last name OR by email/DOB
        • You will be directed to authorize results by either entering the email or last four digits of the phone number were use when the participant first registered

If you receive a locked out message

          • If a participant gets an error that says they are locked out, it means that they have set up their RunSignup account so that they can only log miles when they are logged in. i.e.: cannot log miles by following the steps of #2
          • They will need to log in through one of the ways in #1, and get to their mileage log page.
          • From there, they can unclick the box that says “Only allow me to post results when logged in as…”

Once a participant has accessed their mileage log for the first time, it is highly recommended that the page be bookmarked for easy access over the coming months. You can learn how to add a website bookmark to your phone’s home screen for Android or iPhone.

Social Media Toolkit for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge

Run, walk, hike, bike or swim your way to 500 miles with the BRAND NEW Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge! Register now and log your miles from June 22 to December 31. You’ve accepted a major challenge, now let the world know it! Our social media toolkit is filled with resources to help you promote your challenge and stay motivated on your goal.

Click here to access our library of images you can post on your social media channels

How to download social media shareables from Dropbox
1. Click the link to the Dropbox folder filled with images (you do not need a dropbox account)
2. Select the photo you want to download
3. Right click the photo OR click the three dots button
4. Select “save photo as” or download

How to add a frame to your Facebook profile pic
1. Go to
2. Search for Freedom 100 Mile Challenge or Indy 500 Mile Challenge
3. Select the frame and reposition your photo if necessary
4. Select the time you would like for it to remain your profile pic
5. Push “Use As My Profile Pic”


How to add a photo as your phone background


  1. Go to Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Choose a preset image from a group at the top of the screen (Dynamic, Stills, and so on). Wallpaper marked with  changes appearance when Dark Mode is turned on.
  • Select one of your own photos (tap an album, then tap the photo).To reposition your selected image, pinch open to zoom in on it, then drag the image with your finger to move it. Pinch closed to zoom back out.
  1. Tap Set, then choose one of the following:
    • Set Lock Screen
    • Set Home Screen
    • Set Both


  1. Tap and hold the home screen.
  2. Tap Styles & wallpapersfrom the drop-down menu.
  3. Choose from the collections of wallpapersincluded with your phone, or from third-party applications.
  4. Tap the wallpaperyou want to use.
  5. Adjust the positioning and size and then tap Set wallpaperin the bottom right corner of your screen.
  6. Choose whether you want to set the wallpaper for your Home screenLock screenor both Home and lock screen.


Gear Up for the Challenge- Helpful Tools to Track Your Miles

Get ready conquer the Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge or the Indianapolis Freedom 100 Mile Challenge! The mileage may seem daunting, but there are many useful tools and resources to help you keep track your physical activity, set daily reminders, share activity to motivate yourself and other challenges, and much more. Check out some helpful tools to crush your mileage below:


  1. Strava is a great tool to log your miles and record physical activity. It can be used to track running, walking, biking, and even swimming. You can also share activity with friends and community. Join the Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge and Indianapolis 100 Mile Challenge Strava group to connect with and motivate other challengers!
  2. Runkeeper is also a useful tool for tracking running and cycling. Additional features include the ability to create your own playlists, set goals, and join social challenges.
  3. MapMyRide is a great option for tracking cycling mileage. It provides reliable biking data, allows ride shares, creates social challenges, and provides meal tracking.
  4. Nike + Fuel is also functional tool for tracking biking and running. The app allows you to compete against friends and provides guided exercise routines.
  5. MapMyFitness offers specific tracking options for walking, hiking, dog walking and more.
  6. There are also various apps that provide encouragement and daily reminders such as Human, Carrot Fit, Tep, Charity Miles, and more!

Wearable tools

  1. Smartwatches such as an Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch, FitBit, etc., provide useful tools for tracking physical activity such as pedometer step counting, daily reminders, and heart rate monitoring, in addition to tracking specific to your activity.
  2. Pedometers are the original fitness trackers! A simple pedometer to track your steps will let you know how many miles you have earned daily running and walking.

Starting June 22, you can complete your miles and submit them through RunSignUp to rack up your miles toward your 100 mile or 500 mile goal! Still need to register? Don’t wait, both challenges are filling up fast! Register at

Why Should You Take the Challenge?

Looking for a new way to challenge yourself in 2020? Take on the all new Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge or Indianapolis Freedom 100 Mile Challenge! Be a part of this brand-new virtual fitness challenge with race fans from all over the world. Challenge yourself to complete 500 or 100 miles of physical activity between June 22 and December 31, 2020. Tackle the mileage by running, walking, swimming, biking, or anything that gets your body moving! Why should you take on this challenge? The benefits of moving your body and maintaining an active lifestyle are endless!

Improve mental health and mood

    • Physical activity can help improve your mood and mental health. While exercising, the body releases chemicals that can boost your mood. This can also be a benefit to relieve stress and reduce your risk of depression.

Increased energy levels

    • Increasing your heart rate during exercise will increase your energy levels by improving muscle strength and boosting endurance.

Reduced Risk of Cancer

    • The American Cancer Society has recently recommended that adults achieve 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or a combination. Teens and children should achieve at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day. These recommendations can help reduce the risk of cancer and increase overall health.

Family Time

    • Encourage your family and friends to join you in taking on the Challenge! You can complete the Challenge as individuals or as a Challenge Team. Get the whole family moving by going on family walks, runs, bike rides, or days at the pool!

Cross Train for the 2021 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

    • Cross training includes any physical activity that supplements your main sport and can offer many benefits to your Indy Mini training. These benefits can include strengthening your muscles, improving cardiovascular fitness, reducing risk of injury, and more.
      • Swimming: beat the summer heat; easier on joints; improve flexibility
      • Fitness classes: change up your routine; meet new people
      • Weight lifting: strengthen muscles; strengthen core
      • Cycling: improve cardiovascular fitness and strength
      • Yoga: strengthen muscles; improve flexibility

Registration for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge and the Indianapolis Freedom 100 Mile Challenge are now open! Conquer the challenge individually or as a Challenge Team. Be a part of the second greatest spectacle in racing!

A New Way to Mini

As we continue to celebrate the Month of May in a new way, many of our 500 Festival staff members and interns have gotten into the spirit by participating in the virtual OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. The 500 Festival team has been running and walking right alongside all of our incredible Indy Mini participants from all across the state! Check out some of their Indy Mini stories below: 

Adrianne, Program & Event Manager 

I hiked (read: walked) my Indy Mini on May 2. I had the date down as the Mini anyway and it felt right to do the Mini on the first Saturday of May. My mom, Anita Johnson, joined me for the race. She had signed up for this year’s race and deferred to 2021, but she was tempted with our celebration ice cream. I am SO PROUD of her for pushing through! We ventured to Bloomington and did our race on the Pate Hollow Trail that is part of Hoosier National Forest and just up the road from Paynetown SRA. We did one full lap, then cut across for a half lap and one lap around the parking lot to reach our 13.1-mile goal!   

My Indy Mini experience both hard and relaxing at the same time. I knew if I was going to do this, I didn’t want to do it in a city. I needed a nature fix in the midst of stay-at-home. We were exhausted to be honest. We didn’t feel celebratory until we got to Bruster’s Ice Cream for our finish line treat.  

I have only experienced one Indy Mini as a staff member, but I can say it is almost nothing like being a participant. I share the excitement of kicking off the race, but from day two of the Mini Marathon Expo through the end of Post-Race Party, we are up just about 34 of 36 hours (roughly) so it all blurs together. There’s a lot of adrenalin, smiles, and congratulating. I am always so excited for all of the participants! 

This was my fourth Indy Mini in five years. The other three years I walked the race as a volunteer. I always take ibuprofen a half hour before I start my race. Grapes make for a great, healthy energy boost. Listen to your body. It’s okay to slow your pace, you know you’re going to win this year! 

Maggie, Digital Marketing Manager 

I completed my virtual Indy Mini in downtown Indianapolis. I started along the canal but it started to fill with more people (shout out to a positive of a virtual race- you can sleep in and complete it when you’re ready!). To be able to still complete my race safely and adhere to social distancing practices, I moved through IUPUI’s campus and past Eskenazi and Riley Hospitals. While traveling through downtown, it was encouraging to notice others completing their virtual races from afar. It definitely motivated to push through, especially running the last 45 minutes alone! 

My “finish line” was the parking lot of my apartment building but I was still ecstatic to get there. In-person races provide such an encouraging and motivational atmosphere that I really had to dig deep to keep going. When I ran past Riley, I gave a wave to the building because my sister works there. Each bib, 500 Festival apparel, or checkered flag I saw made me so excited and pushed me further. It’s very mental running alone but am so proud of all of our participants for rising up to the challenge. 

As a staff member, you get to witness all of the excitement and motivation of race participants. It was definitely weird not spending the days leading up to the first weekend in May at the Expo or starting bright and early in Military Park race morning. Being able to complete the virtual Indy Mini was still special, and it was important to join our community in this challenge. Seeing everyone completing their race and encourage others on social media has been just as great as seeing those faces cross the finish line. Knowing how hard our team worked to make the virtual experience feel as much like a race for our participants then seeing them use those resources was very rewarding. 

To recreate the Indy Mini experience, I participated in all of the Expo “virtual’ yoga sessions with YogaSix and the Hot Room, which I highly recommend everyone do before a long run! I customized and printed my own Indy Mini bib as well. My niece and nephews created signs to cheer me on, which my sister texted to me. My niece has JDM so they weren’t able to support in-person but the message from my sister was just as motivating! I used the Indy Mini finish line PNG Alexa, our graphic designer, created, so I had an “official” finish line photo after I got some water and changed shoes. Later, I recreated runners’ services equipped with a 500 Festival Volunteer, my dog Ellie, where I picked up my banana, Clif bar, and chocolate milk. 

Post-race, I couldn’t put my work phone down, I was just so inspired by all of the participants sharing their race with us on social media! Afterward, I made Pad Thai as my celebratory meal. Highly recommend. 

To other virtual Indy Mini participants, don’t give up. I know it’s cliché and easy advice, but it really is mental. You might not have a crowd cheering you on or a band playing to push you through mile 12 but you just need to shut your brain off and get it done. Also, have fun with it! A virtual race doesn’t have to be about getting a PR. Take in your route and get creative recreating Indy Mini elements for your race. 

Bob, CEO:

I ran my virtual Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K in my neighborhood in Carmel on May 2, my wife Brandee had been training for her first OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and ran her virtual Indy Mini through our neighborhood on May 9 (in 2 hr. 10 min.!)

I loved running in the USS Indiana 5k shirt, a race we helped organize around the commissioning ceremony for the submarine in 2018. Brandee enjoyed my biking around to set up pit stations and our boys enjoyed setting up the runner services area and chalk brickyard finish line.

I wanted to run on the original Mini day. It was symbolic and bitter sweet to be able to run on a day we have always been hard at work. I really missed not having that in a normal cadence and got excited about getting back on the calendar for next year.

For me, my virtual 5K was just some time on my own after lots of calls and in-home time. Lots of reflection. For Brandee, she had been training for months and had some anxiety about running on her own but really nailed it. We had pit stations set up for her, neighborhood friends came out to cheer her on and the boys decorated signs, balloons and finish line. It was a big ‘event’ for the whole family.

To celebrate my virtual 5K, I sat on the deck and took some time to continue the decompression and reflection with water and a banana. For Brandee taking on the Indy Mini, she did some stretching, an Epsom salt batch and some well-earned couch time for the rest of the weekend.

For all virtual Indy Mini participants, make it an event, involve friends and family.  You’d be surprised how much fun others will have with the experience as they support you.

Sabrina, VP Marketing and Communications 

We took advantage of the beautiful weather and completed our virtual race on Saturday, May 2 at Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park. We had a great time! It was so much fun seeing other virtual participants wearing their custom bibs and custom shirts at Fort Ben! 

It was a little strange and bittersweet participating on what would have been Indy Mini Saturday, but we made the best of it. The last time my husband and I completed the #IndyMini was 6 years ago (I’ve been on the 500 Festival staff every May since). It was fun to participate with my husband once again but I definitely missed working at my normal #IndyMini race day spot at the finish line greeting all of our awesome participants! It made me even more excited for the 2021 race! 

The biggest enhancement was having my 3-year-old son participate with us! Since we participated virtually, we were able to put him in his tricycle and he rode along with us (and we could push him when he got tired). We even celebrated with another virtual 5K the next day! We had such a great time on Saturday, May 2 we decided to do another 5K on the Monon the next day for round 2! 

To virtual Indy Mini participants, use this year’s virtual race to customize your experience. This is your chance to include others that might not typically be able to participate with you. For us, that meant getting to include our 3-year-old into our race since he could ride along in his stroller or trike (these items aren’t allowed at the in-person Indy Mini event for the safety of others).   

Helen, Marketing Coordinator:  

I was originally planning to complete my Indy Mini on the third weekend in May. When May 2 came around the corner, I was so encouraged and motivated from seeing all the participants complete their race that day that I ended up taking on my race on May 2! My route was a huge lap around Geist Reservoir in Fishers, Indiana, which wove through various neighborhoods and nature trails. 

I loved the virtual race experience! My friends and family surprised me by cheering me along my route. It gave me so much motivation to keep going and stay with my pace. I started struggling more towards the end of my race, so crossing the finish line was so rewarding! 

There is so much preparation and a lot of late night / early morning set-ups that go into the production of the Indy Mini. Being able to watch thousands of participants cross the finish line and celebrate their hard work with their loved ones and supporters is so rewarding as a staff member. On the other hand, I have found that there is so much hard work and dedication that participants put into their training schedules! It makes completing the Indy Mini a whole new rewarding experience being a participant. 

My family knew I was heading out to run my virtual race and halfway through my run, I received a photo of a decorated finish line where the end of my race would be. Some family and friends also had a water station for me about halfway through the race, and it was a life saver. It was such a fun surprise to have friends and family join in and help cheer me on! The Virtual Indy Mini Facebook group served as a wonderful support system as well.   

I celebrated my race by drinking a lot of water and taking a nice long nap! My advice for other virtual Indy Mini participants is to have your friends and family get involved either by participating alongside or providing a water stop along the way. It will help you feel motivated and supported on your race.    

Ryan, Event & Program Intern: 

I ran my race through my hometown of Zionsville, IN. I was able to create a nice route that went all through the downtown area. My first Indy Mini was a lot of fun. Obviously was a bit different of a “Indy Mini experience” than I had expected. It was still a lot of fun to be able to complete my first Mini-Marathon. To try and recreate the in-person race experience, I listened to some music during my race. That way I could at least try to recreate the course entertainment! 

It is well worth all of the training to reach the finish line! Stay positive and keep reaching for your goals. 

Claire, Program & Event Coordinator:  

I will be completing my 13.1 miles in Columbus, IN on Sunday, May 24. I am looking forward to accomplishing my goal of completing a half-marathon! I set this goal last summer (smile) My friends and I bought matching outfits for the race and our family and friends are going to set up a few water stations along the course for us! Of course, I am buying 6 pack of Michelob ULTRA’s to celebrate at the finish line! Our parents are going to throw us a little post-race party at the end! 

Cole, Registration, Ticketing, & Customer Service Coordinator:  

I plan on completing the Mini June 6th in Fenton, MO. I am super excited to cross the finish line knowing that I conquered my first 13.1. I plan on setting up pit stations in locations I will be running and drawing the finish line! I will have my own runner services with bananas, cookies, and milk just like the iconic OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. 

Pat, VP Strategic Partnerships:  

I walked my Indy Mini on May 22 in downtown Indy. It was a 500 Festival events tribute with a route downtown that included the OneAmerica Mini-Marathon course and start/finish lines, Salesforce & JPMorgan Chase 500 Festival Kids’ day, IPL 500 Festival Parade, 500 Festival Memorial Service, presented by Rolls-Royce, 500 Festival Miler series, presented by OrthoIndy, 500 Festival Off The Grid, presented by KeyBank, and the 500 Festival office! I was excited to do my first Indy Mini and see downtown…. I missed it! We recreated the Mini-Marathon experience with the pieces of walking the actual start/finish and we had mini USA and checkered flags that we carried with us. We celebrated with American Dairy Chocolate Milk and then a Michelob ULTRA after. 

Jen Lowe, Senior Vice President of Administration

Since we couldn’t be at the IPL 500 Festival parade on the beautiful morning of May 23, we decided to complete our virtual Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K  Bibs customized and put on and a quick picture in front of the checkered flags and we were ready to go!  It wasn’t a fitness walk as we couldn’t go without Charlie, so we had a nice, long one hour and nine minute 5K.

Sticking to Tradition

For Nicole, both the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and the Indianapolis 500 are more than just races, they’re tradition. While the physical traditions had to change this month, Nicole found ways to keep the spirit and memories alive with a creative take on her virtual Indy Mini. Read her story below and share yours with us on social media using #IndyMini!

My love for the Indy 500 race and my love for running come together for one awesome event the first weekend in May every year: The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Every year, except this year.

I grew up in Indy. The Indy 500 has been a part of my life since I was old enough to go the track in a stroller with my parents.  I grew up going to the Indy 500, qualifications, and practices with my dad and siblings.  A.J. Foyt was a household name in my family growing up.  Checkered flags decorated my home in the month of May and listening to “Bump Day” on the old AM radio is a vivid memory.   

As I grew up, the 500 continued to be a part of my life and I decided to run the Indy Mini for the first time when I was in high school.  I knew I wanted to run on the nostalgic Indy 500 race track and touch the famous brick starting line.  I loved it, but life got in the way and I didn’t run it again until after I was married with two children.  Since then, the Indy Mini has been a staple in my life.   At age 11, my daughter ran the whole 13.1 miles with me.  Over the past several years I have had many close friends join me for the run.  Some years I like to take it all in by myself and be nostalgic and sentimental with every mile.  

My passion for the 500 and love for the Speedway racetrack keeps me coming back year after year to see my running shoes pass over the famous Yard of Bricks or to stop and give them a quick kiss.  When I’m running on the track, I glance up into the empty stands and I remember the good times with my dad as a child, his patience with me when I was begging to wait for another autograph, the hot days watching the pit crews and pit action, races sitting under an umbrella waiting for the rain to stop so the track can dry and the race can begin, teenage years in Gasoline Alley (where my parents told me not to go), and now the place where I sit with my aging dad and young son.  Throughout my life I have tried to pass the love of the 500 onto all of my children, but only my son took the bait.  He has joined my dad and me to the race ever since he was five years old.  This year will be his 12th consecutive race with my dad and me.  

The in-person Indy Mini was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  I knew there were worse things happening in the world, but for me, the cancelling of this historic event was extremely disappointing.  I knew I wouldn’t break my tradition of running it every year but I didn’t want to just run more miles by myself.  I had just completed my virtual Boston Marathon and just felt like running another 13.1 virtually was anticlimactic for me.  I’m used to feeling so many emotions during this race, that I wanted to make it a special event.   I needed to feel something again.  

I asked more than 13 special people in my life to each run a mile with me and luckily, exactly 13 said, “Yes.”  Perfect.  


I ran one-mile laps in my neighborhood and picked up (and dropped off) a new loved one with each mile.  With quarantine, I have been missing my running buddies greatly and it felt amazing to run with them again and get individual time with each of them.  It was also special for me to get my family members out with me because they usually won’t run with me.  My father, who taught me to love the 500, was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s and it has been a very rough year with his struggles.   He did part of mile 13 with me.  My mom has kept up with his health issues and has been a true champion.  She did mile 12.   It was so wonderful and emotional to see each new person with every mile.   It was the easiest race I’ve ever done because my family and friends were with me.  Instead of looking up into the huge Speedway stands this year, I had a little cheering section of my children, niece and nephew, husband, and my parents on my front lawn.   It wasn’t my traditional Indy Mini that I crave every year, but it was a new special race for me, which is exactly what I wanted and needed. 

That May Feeling

The Month of May in Indianapolis is like no other. To Beth Boles, the Month of May is everything. A racing fan at heart, Beth has never missed a day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, attending 52 Indy 500 races. She is also a 500 Festival Princess Program Alumna, mother of IndyCar driver Conor Daly, and wife of IMS President Doug Boles. Needless to say, May holds a special place in the heart of the Boles family.  

To celebrate her favorite time of year, Beth also has a special love for 500 Festival events. In fact, she has participated in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon for over 7 years! Year after year, Beth eagerly anticipates the thrilling atmosphere of the Indy Mini to kick off the Month of May celebrations in Indianapolis. She and her niece, who travels from St. Louis, typically get in the racing spirit by wearing matching checkered flag tutus as they conquer 13.1 miles. However, Beth’s Indy Mini looked slightly different this year. With the move to the virtual race, Beth was still determined to keep the tradition of taking on her 13.1 miles during the Month of May. Despite missing the atmosphere of the in-person event, Beth had perhaps one of her best Indy Minis yet. She found that she was able to train more, given the free time she has now been allotted. As a race fan, as well as a high school girl’s lacrosse coach, Beth’s spring schedule is typically jam-packed. However, with cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her schedule has significantly reduced. Beth has been grateful for the time to get outside and be active, which she says is beneficial for her mental and physical health. Beth even had the unique opportunity to train with a few laps around IMS when her husband Doug went to the track.  

On a sunny Saturday in May, Beth set out to take on her virtual Indy Mini. Doug had planned to run alongside Beth, however, he is now planning on conquering his virtual Indy Mini at a later date. To her surprise, Beth completed her virtual Indy Mini in one of her best times yet. She celebrated her victory by taking photos, enjoying her traditional post-race bagel, and going to Starbucks with her son for a green tea matcha. However, to Beth, nothing compares to that May feeling. She believes there is nothing greater than the atmosphere of the Indy Mini. From the people, to the entertainment, to the volunteers, the thrill and excitement of the Indy Mini is incomparable. Beth and her family also love participating in the IPL 500 Festival Parade each year.  

August cannot come soon enough for the Boles family. In the future, the Month of May feeling will never again be taken for granted. Beth believes race fans will come together again, and when they do, they will appreciate the sport more than ever. Race fans will celebrate together in the freedom to get out to the track and enjoy each other’s company, the live events, and all of the festivities that make the Month of May what is it.